Rural hospital coalition urges Congress to spare Medicare programs that shore up rural health care

A coalition of rural hospitals are lobbying Congress to keep two Medicare programs that the National Rural Health Association says are vital to keep hundreds of smaller hospitals going. The Medicare Dependent Hospital designation and the Low-Volume Hospital Adjuster, which date to the 1980s, help keep low-volume rural hospitals’ doors open with the Medicare payment adjustments they provide, according to the NRHA.

Both programs could end Oct. 1 without Congressional action. “Rural facilities do not have the financial background to weather all of these cuts,” said Lance Keilers, NRHA president and administrator of Ballinger Memorial Hospital in San Angelo, Tex., told Brendon Nafziger of DOTmed News, an online magazine serving the medical and medical equipment industry.

More than 200 hospitals have the Medicare Dependent designation. To qualify, a hospital must have fewer than 100 beds and Medicare patients must make up 60 percent of its inpatient days or discharges. Low-volume hospitals must be at least 15 miles from another hospital and provide care for fewer than 1,600 Medicare beneficiaries a year. (Read more)

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